CAL Hires Chartered Services

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

SEVERAL international flights had to be cancelled by Caribbean Airlines on Sunday due to pilots calling in sick mere hours before take-off.

The action caused thousands of passengers stranded in and out of Trinidad.

CAL issued a media release on Sunday at 7.18 pm detailing the number of flights that had to be cancelled. Passengers in areas affected included Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and New York in the US, Toronto Canada, Barbados, St Lucia, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

It stated, “Today, there has been a remarkably high volume of calls from pilots reporting that they are unwell and unable to report for duty. These calls come in at approximately three hours prior to flight departure times.”

The release also stated,  “It is to be noted that the airline is currently in negotiations with the Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association over a collective agreement for the period 2015 -2018.

“As a result of the sick calls, Caribbean Airlines has had to cancel several flights…Our dedicated Reservations Service Centre is actively working to contact all affected customers. However, due to the number of individuals impacted, this process is currently ongoing.”

CAL advised that there was no need to visit the airport if the flights were cancelled as customers will be contacted with the new flight date and time.

“We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work to resolve these unexpected challenges and provide the necessary support to our affected customers,” the release stated.

The sick out by pilots comes at the height of the travel season and the most intense since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association subsequently issued a media release stating that the association was unaware of any strike action.

That release stated, “In accordance with section 67(2) of the Industrial Relations Act, Chapter 88:01, the pilot body and its members are barred from taking such industrial action since any employer or worker engaged in an essential service is barred from taking industrial action in connection with any such essential service.”

In an update provided almost one hour later, Caribbean Airlines further advised that chartered services will operate from Miami to accommodate passengers affected by flight cancellations of August 20, which occurred due to severe cockpit crew constraints.

It stated that passengers on BW 483 (Miami to POS) of August 20 will be accommodated on charter G6604 departing at 9 pm.

Passengers on BW 481 (Fort Lauderdale to POS) of August 20 will be transported on charter G6606 departing at 10 pm

Both services will operate from Miami International Airport.  

Charter services will also operate to move BW 484 and BW 480 (of August 20) affected passengers out of Trinidad and the affected customers were contacted. The recovery flights for Trinidad to Miami are scheduled for today (Monday August 21, 2023) at 1 pm and 2 pm.

To facilitate customers on domestic flights, CAL advised on Sunday that customers holding airline tickets can use it to travel by ferry at 8.30 am on Monday from Port-of-Spain to Scarborough since two domestic flights for Monday BW1502 & BW1504.

An additional ferry sailing was also done to accommodate airline passengers on Sunday.

Apart from the problem with cancellations and delays, CAL is also experiencing a high call volume resulting in longer waiting times on the line.

The airline has apologised for the inconvenience.

Caribbean Airlines falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance. Finance Minister Colm Imbert is currently acting as Prime Minister in the absence of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.


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